BMW isn’t known for its rugged off-road vehicles. In fact, they specialize in manufacturing luxury vehicles. Even though the BMW X3 is a luxury vehicle, can it still go off-roading?
The BMW X3 can be taken off-road. However, it was not designed for off-roading, so it should be avoided. Most BMW X3 models have AWD configurations with independent rear suspension, which increases off-roading capabilities. These features are designed to create a better pavement driving experience.
You might be surprised to hear the BMW X3 is capable of off-roading. Read on to learn more about the BMW X3’s off-road capabilities and limits.
BMW X3 Off-Roading Capability
BMW X3s have AWD (all-wheel-drive), so they can handle some off-roading, but the reason the X3 has AWD is to help it handle snowy roads and other rough weather conditions. The AWD makes the BMW X3 more durable if you decide to take it off-roading.
In addition to the AWD, the BMW X3 has Independent Rear Suspension (IRS). While this is typically seen as a great off-roading feature, the intention of the IRS on the BMW X3 is to create a smooth ride on old and cracked pavement. If you hit a pothole, the IRS will allow the tires to move separately and not jostle you as much. It also helps prevent damage to your vehicle when you drive over potholes.
The IRS also helps the tires wear more evenly because both tires are usually on the ground at the same time. They don’t lift together as they do with other suspension systems.
These two features give the X3 some credibility on dirt roads though they were incorporated to make the everyday use of the vehicle more comfortable and to increase the life of the vehicle and its individual parts.
While the BMW X3 can handle light off-roading, it wasn’t built to tackle rough and rocky terrain like a Jeep or large truck. While the BMW X3 is equipped with AWD and IRS, it is built to handle only semi-rough roads that have cracks, multiple potholes, or are made of gravel. The AWD was also installed to help reduce the risk of losing control when driving on ice and snow.
The BMW X3 is relatively close to the ground. If you take it off-roading, the undercarriage will likely be damaged and you will have to pay thousands of dollars to repair it. (Source)
In addition to the damage to the exterior, driving on roads that are too rough can cause internal damage. The BMW X3 doesn’t have a low-range gearbox. Without a low-range gearbox, the X3 doesn’t give control to the driver like other off-road specialized vehicles do, so there is a high risk you will lose control of your vehicle.
How to Take BMW X3 Off-Roading Safely
If you choose to take your BMW X3 off-roading, there are some things that you can do to prepare both yourself and your car.
If you are going to be taking an overnight off-roading trip, make sure you pack food and extra clothing. Make sure you have traction boards and recovery straps in the trunk, just in case your car gets stuck. Also, have a spare tire and the supplies to change the tire handy, just in case one of the tires goes flat or is punctured. You can mount the spare tire to the top of your BMW X3.
It’s also important that you make sure the car is in good shape before leaving. Make sure the windshield and windows are clean, your fluids are topped off, and that the tires are filled correctly. By taking these extra steps, you are ensuring that your car won’t break down while you are off-roading.
Plan a Path
You will need to choose your path carefully. If you’re not sure and you’ve never gone off-roading before, it might be wise to bring a friend who has more experience along.
Don’t go to areas where extreme off-roading is required in your BMW. The last thing you want to do is get stuck. If you find anywhere along the way that the path is outside of your car’s capabilities, then play it safe and turn around. If turning around is not possible, then slowly reverse back down the path as carefully as you are able and find a different path to follow. (Source)
Why BMW X3 Isn’t a Great Off-Roading Vehicle
There are many reasons why the BMW X3 isn’t a great off-roading vehicle. First of all, it is low to the ground and will be damaged by the terrain if you take it off-roading.
Although the seats are comfortable, they are not built to move with you and the road as some seats in Jeeps or other off-roading vehicles are. When you drive over large items, you and the other passengers will move with the road. However, it won’t be comfortable, especially if the car dips suddenly.
The BMW X3 only has 248 horsepower. When you go off-roading, especially in extreme areas, you want and need a vehicle with a lot of horsepower. While the BMW X3 has a relatively high amount of horsepower, it’s not enough to support going off-roading often.
The BMW X3 is a luxury car, which means everything about it is more expensive than most cars. This includes repairs and maintenance. If the car is damaged while you are off-roading, you will have to pay a large amount of money to repair it. It is up to you whether or not the risk is worth the off-roading experience.
With a BMW X3, you won’t have to worry about your car making it through rough terrain if you come across it. However, avoid taking it off-roading on purpose, especially if the terrain is extremely rough and full of large rocks. The BMW X3 is heavy and likely won’t make it over the rocks.
The BMW X3 isn’t a great off-roading vehicle, but it is a great compact SUV to have when the weather is bad.